It was one of those only in Los Angeles moments. Early in the second quarter of Friday night’s City Section basketball showdown between Westchester and host Fairfax, fans from both sides of the sold-out bleachers started standing and screaming.
And it wasn’t because of a player.
Singer Chris Brown and entourage showed up fashionably late and took a courtside seat. Suddenly cellphones and cameras were out everywhere. Fairfax’s No. 1 fan, Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was six seats down.
The game momentarily became a secondary event. Then both teams elevated their play and started living up to the hype of a matchup of top teams. No. 17 Westchester came away with a 53-47 victory over No. 7 Fairfax behind a strong fourth-quarter performance from senior guard Terrell Waiters, who made three clutch baskets.
“Terrell was outstanding,” Westchester Coach Ed Azzam said. “He was the difference in the game. That’s the best he’s played all year. He really assertive himself.”
It was a significant win for the Comets, who improved to 16-5 overall and 5-0 in the Western League. Barring a late-season collapse, the win puts the Comets in good position to be the No. 1 seed for the City Section Open Division playoffs.
Keith Fisher finished with 17 points to lead Westchester. Donald Gipson had 12 points for Fairfax (18-3, 4-1).
The Lions opened a 23-9 lead in the second quarter before Westchester picked up its intensity and got more players involved in its offense. Dwight Murray, a transfer from University High, made major contributions off the bench. Fairfax and its young guards struggled at times with turnovers.
Westchester L’Kielynn Taylor (5) drives to the basket against Fairfax’s Babacar Thiombane.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Fairfax’s Donald Gipson goes for the steal against Westchester’s Keith Fisher during the first half.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Westchester’s L’Kielynn Taylor (5) puts up a shot over Fairfax’s Robert McRae (30) during the first half.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Singer Chris Brown, left, surprises the crowd as he attends the basketball game at Fairfax High.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Two students try to grab photos of singer Chris Brown, who attended the game at Fairfax High.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Fairfax’s Jeremy Hamilton (4) reacts after making a three-pointer against Westchester in the first half.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Westchester Coach Ed Azzam directs his team during a 53-47 win over Fairfax.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Westchester’s L’Kielynn Taylor (5) celebrates with teammates in the closing moments of the Comets' 53-47 victory over Fairfax.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Westchester’s Keith Fisher (12) reacts in the closing moments of his team’s 53-47 win over Fairfax.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Prep basketball’s popularity in Southern California was visible on a memorable night, as fans and students crammed into sold-out gymnasiums at Fairfax, La Verne Damien and Encino Crespi to watch terrific matchups of games involving top 25 teams.
No. 1 Chino Hills (19-0) defeated No. 14 Damien, 92-65. Lonzo Ball scored 32 points. No. 6 Crespi (20-1) defeated No. 11 Alemany, 79-59. USC-bound De’Anthony Melton scored 25 points.